DeHart Field Still Not Ready to Open, Says Township
Officials say field has no definite reopen date; expert [Chip Osborne] will evaluate its condition next week.
DeHart Field is not yet ready to open for the spring sports season, and there is no definitive date on when it will be, according to township officials.
"We want the field opened as soon as possible," said committeeman Jerry Ryan at Tuesday night's Township Committee meeting. Ryan, who is the community liaison to the Recreation Department Advisory Committee, said the committee is "concerned" and is closely monitoring the situation.
The township's organic fields expert Chip Osborne will be assessing the fields next week and is also helping develop a management plan for the field, said Ryan. The field was reopened last fall after a period of being closed, when a fungal infection ruined the newly planted sod.
(The field has been the subject of controversy over the last few years. After a plan to install artificial turf was defeated in a referendum, the field officially re-opened in December of 2010 with natural grass after a $1.3 million renovation. Later, the town discovered the sod had been incorrectly installed.)
"We want to set a definite date" to open," said Ryan, who later told Patch he had gotten a lot of feedback from residents that DeHart's closure was creating problems with the spring sports schedule.
Mayor Vic DeLuca said he is concerned about the field opening too soon, before the still-growing grass is sustainable. "I don't know how to speed [that] up," he said.
"There is a real, definite concern about overuse of [other] fields," said Ryan in an email to Patch. "Several people have said that going on DeHart too soon will mean that the field will be 'ruined,' but I think that word is too strong. I think we need to ask the expert to tell us what degree of use causes what degree of wear-and-tear, and requires what amount of recovery. I am hoping there is some middle ground here and that we can make a decision based on some data."
Committeeman Marlon K. Brownlee asked, "Are we looking for perfection, or a minimum level to be viable?"